Amanda Winburn, G. Michael Russo win awards from Mississippi Counseling Association
OXFORD, Miss. – Amanda Winburn, associate professor of counselor education at the University of Mississippi, has been awarded the Outstanding Contributor Research Professional Award from the Mississippi Counseling Association.
Michael Russo, a doctoral candidate in the counselor education and supervision program, also was awarded the Outstanding Contributor Research Student Award.
The Outstanding Contributor Research Award encourages counselors to carry out organized research in their respective fields in both the professional and student categories. The selection criteria include research applicability to counseling, originality, validity and presentation.
“Faculty and students who contribute to research do so in a way that eventually bridges research to practice and impacts services in counseling and education,” said Rick Balkin, UM professor of leadership and counselor education. “Dr. Winburn is the real deal with exemplary contributions in all areas of teaching, research and service, and Michael Russo has had a very successful doctoral program experience with state and national recognitions and publications.”
Winburn’s research areas include advocacy in school counseling, bullying, wellness and, more specifically, play therapy. Her research has recently been featured in journals including the International Journal of Play Therapy and Professional School Counseling.
“I am interested in this line of research because I believe that advocacy is at the heart of everything that we do as school counselors and play therapists,” Winburn said. “Learning how to become stronger, more effective advocates for our profession or our programming ultimately impacts our students and clients in very positive ways.”
Winburn also won the School of Education’s 2019 Outstanding Teacher Award. She has been involved with play therapy at UM both in a clinical setting and by actively conducting research.
“I think conducting research is just a natural extension of my passion for school counseling,” Winburn said. “When you believe in something as strongly as I do, you want to explore the field and try and answer as many questions as possible.”
Russo, a Dayton Beach, Florida, native, came to Ole Miss in 2018 to join the doctoral program. He was recognized with the student award based on his overall research agenda, which focuses on neuroscience-informed counseling.
“Much of my published work is focused around the integration of neuroscience into counseling as well as the empowerment of individuals to reduce symptoms associated with anxiety and trauma through neurofeedback,” Russo said. “Through counseling processes, such as neurofeedback, individuals can reduce clinical symptoms associated with mental health diagnoses.”
Russo recently co-authored an article with Balkin that was published in Counseling Outcome, Research and Evaluation. Together, they evaluated adolescent male perceptions of working alliance, problem severity, well-being and crisis stabilization throughout a 10-week course of residential treatment.
“To be blunt, this award isn’t about me,” Russo said. “This award is about the clients that I have had the honor to watch grow and have had the courage to challenge stigma, sign up for a research study and reclaim control of their brain to promote greater regulation within their lives.”
The MCA is a branch of the American Counseling Association. It works in Mississippi to encourage the personal and professional development of counselors, influence decisions that affect the counseling profession, and promote the progress of counseling.
The MCA will honor Winburn and Russo at a virtual conference on Nov. 11.